A bit of humor in a business presentation can put your audience at ease or drive home an important point. But you shouldn’t try so hard to be funny that you lose the focus of your message or risk alienating your audience. Follow this advice:
- Work with what you know. Because you are the boss, making yourself the target of a joke is the safest route. A gentle joke—without being vicious—could also play off something well known about another staff member, such as the person who always writes long reports or the quiet staff member who went wild with the karaoke during the previous evening’s entertainment. If there’s an elephant in the room, an issue that’s worrying the group, attack it head-on, acknowledging it with a joke to put everyone at ease.
- Keep it simple. A running joke can stitch together your speech. But focus on your business mission, not on rehearsing your next stand-up routine. If a joke doesn’t work, don’t try to recover with another joke. It will likely fall flat. Just move on to the next topic.